Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Apostrophical Power

So it's Tuesday, not WeNerdsDay, but after perusing my homepage and seeing how many news stories are using apostrophes in the headlines I thought I'd mention it here.

I have been a grammar nerd from time to time, and certainly have been on the side of the righteous when it comes to the its/it's debate, but this is larger than that. Perhaps sarcasm doesn't need its own font (though I still like the concept of reverse italics), it just needs apostrophes.

Simply by applying apostrophes to a simple headline, the whole meaning is brought into question. It's the little differences. Example:

The new retirement plan versus The new 'retirement' plan

The whole meaning is brought into question. Amazing how two little marks can introduce so much doubt, suspicion or doublespeak to a simple sentence.

Iran 'releases 140 demonstrators' versus Iran releases 140 demonstrators

Really, if you were a demonstrator, which headline would you prefer?


the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

I just read something the other day about the formation and development of punctuation marks the other day.

And, I think I also just forgot something about the formation and development of punctuation marks. Other than the question mark is a q with a dot under it and the exclamation point is an i with a dot under it. Brilliant, right? They both started out as abbreviations.

Bev said...

I used to be a grammar nerd, but then I became humbled after years of posting online and later finding errors in my own writing. I've come to see that sometimes we just get going so fast that, well, mistakes happen.

That being said, I still get a little snooty about things like they're/there/their and you're/your. It's not that I can't be friends with people who habitually misuse them, I definitely can... but I secretly judge them.

I'm having trouble picturing what "reverse italics" are, btw.

Samsmama said...

UGH! I constantly worry that I'm putting an apostrophe where it shouldn't be, or the other way around. I'll completely reword a sentence if I can't figure it out.

And, like Bev said, your/you're. It ain't rocket science, people. That and to/too.

Elliott said...

I love the provenance of words and symbols, I want to know what the 'I' stood for - the 'Q' seems self-explanatory.

Bev, picture the letters slanting left instead of right. I'm regularly sarcastic, so it is of supreme interest to me to make sure other people get that.

I avoid apostrophes whenever possible in contractions (I actually reworded the above sentence to avoid using 'don't'). What kills me is that we've become so accustomed to shortening everything and ignoring spell-check when it warns us that it's a miracle any time we get these things right.

(Stepping back off my soapbox, now...)

Sarah J. Bradley said...

My biggest grief is that everything is a possessive. I seen signs in front of eateries that say, "wraps and panini's." What does the panini own? Signs that like that are everywhere...

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